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ed upon a large work on the "Coins of Alexander's Successors in the East," I think it needless now to say more than that the new types, which will appear in that work, are more than equal in that number to those already known.
0* the Gem and Coins, figured as Nos. 7 and 8 in the preceding Plate, and on a Gem belonging to the late Edward Conollt. By the Editor.
I have already, on more than one occasion, been enabled to place in jurta position, (though but with a casual remark,) relics of antique art found in Central Asia, and similar remains discovered in Europe; the fanner bearing too remarkable an affinity to the latter to allow of our doubting, that they were the work of a people who had attained the same standard of excellence in arts and sciences, who thought alike on Batters of religion, and who were ruled and influenced by similar superstitions. I have been much impressed with this fact by other casual discoveries of a like nature, which have in a manner forced themselves on me, but which, as isolated, and perhaps to many, trivial instances of resemblance, hardly merited a separate and individual notice. There is, however, I am certain, a new and most interesting field of investigation open to the Antiquary, in the comparison of such identities and resemblances. Time, opportunity of research, and a sound knowledge of Asian antiquities are required for the conduct of such enquiry; and one who possesses none of these indispensable requisites, can do no more, when he stumbles on some startling fact, than cast the glimmer of his angle discovery upon the darkness of an untried subject, in order to tempt the capable to venture on the novel path which he himself cannot follow. It remains to be seen, whether the instances which I will now lay before my readers, may not encourage the competent investigator to turn his mind to the task, with strong hopes of success in the effectuation of singular discoveries.
My friend Lieut. Cunningham has, with his usual care and ingenuity, taken occasion to illustrate by a gem in the possession of Mr. Tregear, the singular obverse of the coin of Telephus Euergetes, No. 8 of the preceding plate. The singular impression of this gem, used as the seal of a letter addressed to me by Mr. Tregear, had already attracted my attention. I had written to him on the subject of its place of discovery, and I had ascertained by reference to sufficient authorities, that the "ancient giant with snaky legs," as Lieut. Cunningham so accurately describes it, was an emblem of Abraxas. The Ebermayer collection of gems, as illustrated by Bayer, has no less than eight similar, or nearly similar gems : six of these represent, a giant with a whip in the left hand, a shield on the right arm, the head of a cock, (the head in Tregear's gem, has the horns of a stag, as has one of the Eber. gems: it is apparently human in the coin of Telephus,) and snaky legs: the attitude is in all the same; the two other of these gems in the Ebermayer collection differ, by having the head of a lion, and of a hawk instead of a cock. My note book gives me the following abstract (from Tennison's Idolatry, which I have not at hand for reference) of the obscure and singular worship of this deity.* "Abraxas was, according to the Basilideans, a visionary sect, which flourished in the second century, (taking their name from Basilides of Alexandria, their founder,) the sacred name of the author of the Cycle of 365 days, expressed in the value of the letters composing it according to the numeration of the Greeks. a 1. /3 2. p 100. a 1. 5 60. a 1. e 200 = 365.
It was the synonym of Abracadabra, a God worshipped by the Syrians, the same who is expressed by the emblem of a year (a circle) with the letters of his name triangularly disposed within it." It was essentially a Solar or Mithraic system of worship.
The learned and acute Bayer, in his illustration of the Ebermayer gems, observes of the Basilideans, that they and others who inclined to their doctrine, pretended to inscribe the planetary emblems, and their powers on gems and metals. "Basidiliani, aliique eorum sectatores, confidunt se programmata siderum, et eorum vires gemmis et metallis insculpere posse." (Gemmarum Thesaurus, p. 210. cap. 432). This statement he supports by numerous authorities. Now if we have before us in Lieut. Cunningham's plate, both a gem and a coin inscribed, as I am prepared to shew they are, with emblems of the solar power and influence, (confirming Lieut. Cunningham's sound suggestion as to the character of the human figures on the reverse of the coin,) have we not discovered a singular clue to the religious opinions of those in whose time they were executed, and what is more valuable, have we not obtained collateral evidence as to the era of the recently known Telephus Euergetes?
* The original authorities regarding this sect are, Tertullian, "De litescriptioni1ms," Hieronymus, Augustin, and lreneeus.
The erudite commentaries of Bayer, upon each of the gems above attuded to, run to too great a length, and touch upon too many details to render it necessary for my present enquiry that I should extract the whole of them. As my object is to shew the solar character of the emblem of Abraxas, and its identity with the figures on the coin and gem before us, I will extract his description of, and his notes upon, the gem, No. 438 of the Ebermayer collection, (Gem. Thes. p. 215), in which the solar attributes are described almost as we find them in Mr. Tregear's gem.
"Monstrum capite galli, trunco corporis humano, pedibus in serpents duos desinentibus qui se reflectunt, scutum habeus una manu, sigoatmn Uteris IAQ, altera flagellum, virtutem habere creditum est contra inimicos, gestantemque reddere victorem; ad venena valere et sanguinem stringere; uti apud Commillum Leonardem, legimus,
Gallum Itpov qXtov opviOa esse, et mentiore solis ortum, testatus Pansanius, lib. v., et Plutarchus, de Pythire oraculis.
Scctum et Flagkllum significat, Abraxam suos credulos defensurum esse, et scuto protecturum et adversantes flagello castigaturum; et ideo ille pectus thorace tectum.
Pedes Anguinos, Macarius refert ad ortum indicandum; quia nempe Mithras sicut et Erictithonius, vel in lapide, vel in terra, de solo aestu Hbidinis sunt generati. Gigantes etiam serpentipedes fingebantur a veteribus, at diis insultantium miserabilem insolentiam deriderent. Conf. Macrobius. lib. i. Saturn apud Chifletium in Abraxa Proteo, p. 38."
With the exception of the letters IAfi, we have in our gem the correspondent emblems with those occurring in the one above described, and I have extracted Bayer's annotations on these ordinary attributes, because given at length with the gem No. 439 : our gem has, however, one extraordinary additional symbol, imperfectly given in the lithograph, but perfect in the impression of the gem now before me, taken from a letter of Mr. Tregear's; viz. the stag's horns on the head of the cock. Our gem is in fact a facsimile, so far as figure is concerned of No. 443, in the Ebermayer cabinet, with the difference, that the head of Abraxas in ours is turned to the right instead of the left. Bayer, and other annotators, most justly see in this extraordinary symbol another solar allusion, as if the Basilideans laboured to crowd every possible Mithraic emblem into their type of Abraxas. "Ramos cervi appositos Chifletius non male censet, ut solis symbola omnia in unum cogerent Basilidiani. Cervus enim vivacissimum in primis animal; obid soli, vitae principia excitanti, sacrum." (Gem. Thes. p. 220.)
were with the Basilideans the letters expressing the Supreme Being,* resident in the highest heaven. The indistinct head in the coin leaves us in doubt, as to the exact character of this part of the figure; it is enough to know that the hawk, the cock, and the lion are equally employed as Mithraic emblems in the compound form of Abraxas, the lord of the Solar Cycle, as shewn in instances already noted, and that it is immaterial as to the general meaning of the figure, which of these be employed to complete the mystical shape. Now this alternative use of common symbols being ascertained, and the figures on the reverse of the coin having a directly Mithraic character, I should be inclined to consider the form on the obverse as not the less Basilidean, because of the (apparently) human head which surmounts it. Bayer applies the term "Abraxea Mithriaca," to one of the Abraxead gems, (No. 438), which he describes, and such I conceive to be the symbolic efligy on the coin. The "snaky legs" are the constant attribute of Abraxas; the human head would not be inappropriate to the lord of the Cycle of 365 years in his directly Solar, or Mithraic character. The shield and scourge are not less emblematical of the solarf disk, (the "clypeum solis" of Ovid) and of Apollo Auriga, than of the minatory and protective power of Abraxas, a Mithraic form of the Deity; while the serpent is as observed in the above extract, directly referable to the generative power of the great luminary. Nothing is more natural than that the latter Grecian potentates of Western Asia, surrounded by the professors of a Mithraic belief, should have in part admitted the
* "Deum Mosia appellatuin IAQ unde vox Jovis." Diodorus Sicolus, Bibl. Hist. lib. i.
t " Corpus Solare seudiscus solis in Libro PharkGj. vocatur i. e. Peita
Nigra,seu Clypeus niger; idque propter rotundam formam." (Hyde's Hist Beligionis Veterum Persarum, cap. iv.) This invests still more closely Abraxas with a Mithraic character. iT,
Basilidean doctrines, or a modification of them; and one is perhaps the less surprised to find Telephus, the beneficent, acknowledging in the gtnerative and preservative influence of the sun, a principle of good, which his name would lead us to conclude, he in particular professed the practice of.* That a general tendency to acknowledge the Mi
* I do not like to leave this subject without a few words regarding the Inscriptions on the Basilidean gems in the Ebermayer collection. Mr. Tregear's Basilidean seal Ii destitute of letters, but others may be discovered bearing characters, and to facilitate ianstigation, I will, as Bayer's Thesaurus is excessively rare, copy in this place the intent words found on the gems figured in his book. I should premise, that all the turds are written "Uteris inversis," or from right to left, which will prove a key to future discovery, should we be fortunate enough to recover further specimen of these j teres ting relics.
Embermayer Gems, No. 437. Abraxas; on the reverse, ; AH0D9AX
: AHIAqODOin : AHANANA: AHA<PA1 : AHIIYO : AHAqSAl : AHAXIM.
These names are placed in the gem one above the other, beginning from the right, being the names of the seven angels, Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, Raphael, Ananiel, Protariel, and Chabsael, of whom, or of their synomins in the etherial world, "the ■Men of the seven stars." Bayer gives in the following abstract the Basilidean creed:—
41 lu uoxninibus quidein angelorum, quos Trithepines intelligentio vocat in tractate de Sept em Secundeis, non conveniunt annotante discrimen laudatissimo Jul. Seiche Lt, N. 39. p. 48-49: quod mirum nemini videbitur; siquidem nec Saturniln torn Basilide condiscipulo conveniebat, qui apud Epiphanium hsresi 23, angelos, agebti, a superiori virtute descibisses ex quibus septem mundum, et quss in mundo, suit comprehensa, condiderunt, ejusque mundi suam quemque angelum partem divisible tomtom, Caxsiel orbem Saturni; Sachreel, Jovis; Samuel, Martis; Michael, Solis; Ananetl, Veneris; Raphael, Mercurii; Luna, itidem, Michael." (p. 219.)
Ebr. Gems, No. 438. Abraxas, the scourge, and shield in the right hand, his left Hi the head of a man, kneeling, and naked; below him the sacred name written
(DAI; behind the kneeling figure E AA3A9AI, of which Bayer makes
CABAQ© ©E02: on the reverse a lion, (Mithraic emblem of the sun,) a
IA8N : OMOTN: OqOAIAU): (DlAIA: AAAT.
These words are placed one above the other beginping from the right, the dots between them merely mark the termination of a line. Bayer calls them ./Egyptian, and translates, "summo marti omnia vincenti."
Eber. Gems, No. 440. Abraxas: about him the letters NO 3 tpO on the reverse
A3 AZ, an abridged form perhaps of Abraxas.
Eber. Gems, No. 441. Abraxas: above him, (but inversed,) the words IOYIOY QIOYNY YOOYQ QNIOY, which Bayer translates "Dominifortitudo "tenia," below him IAQ AHAl (inversed) translated '• Angelus Domini."